Post-classical history

Gestes des Chiprois

An Old French prose chronicle, completed around 1315-1320, dealing with the history of Cyprus and Outremer, and based on different sources.

The anonymous author was probably born in Tyre (mod. Soûr, Lebanon), and later became a member of the chancery of the Order of the Temple in Acre (mod. ‘Akko, Israel). After 1291, he moved to Cyprus, where he was active in the entourage of King Henry II (1285-1324), working as a secretary and a copyist. He apparently belonged to a family of the lesser nobility, and in his work he expressed the perspectives, values, expectations, and class consciousness of the aristocracy. Nevertheless, he was not hostile to merchants (especially to the Genoese), and sometimes drew on their eyewitness testimony for some details of his chronicle.

Les Gestes des Chiprois survives in a single, humble manuscript (MS Torino, Biblioteca Reale, Varia 433), lacking a beginning and end; it was copied in the castle of Kyrenia in Cyprus in 1343 for the lord of Mimars by his prisoner Johan le Miege. The chronicle comprises three different parts: the first is based essentially on the Annales de Terre Sainte, known in Latin, French, Castilian, and Italian versions; it covers the years 1132-1224, but it originally began with the Creation of the World. The second part incorporates the memorials of Philip of Novara concerning the war (1223-1242) between Emperor Frederick II and part of the Cypriot nobility, led by the powerful Ibelin family; it also preserves five poems written by Philip on some relevant episodes of the war. For the third part the author drew on the French continuation of the chronicle of William of Tyre (the so-called Eracles, here referred to as Livre dou Conquest) and, from the year 1270 onward, on his own experience and the oral testimony of his most reliable informants. This last part, conventionally called Chronicle of the Templar of Tyre, is considered the richest and most accurate source for the last decades of Outremer, and gives an exceptional firsthand account of the fall of Acre. In its unique manuscript the chronicle ends abruptly with the year 1309, although it also gives a detailed and dispassionate description of the trial of the Templars (1314).

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